Saint Lucia. Or: Whether not to go home?

After having spent beautiful times in the South of the Lesser Antilles we felt the urge to move a couple of steps North. From Bequia, it was a fairly long day trip to Saint Lucia. We passed the main island of Saint Vincent and sailed all along the coast of Saint Lucia towards its northerly situated Rodney Bay.

That ride took a bumpy start: Just after lifting the anchor in the well protected Admiralty Bay, I set all sails. The sun wasn’t yet up and it was still dark. Leaving the last rocks of Bequia behind, the wind started kicking in. Yuana sailed very fast, but the steering wheel required more and more force for keeping the boat on course. Yuana desperately wanted to turn into the wind. What was wrong?

The wind increased much stronger than expected, 28 knots from the side, 60 to 80 degrees. With all sails all up, we were simply overpowered and far away from a nice balance between wind direction and force versus sail area and trim. So we reefed the first time before the day really started.

Saint Lucia was intended to be a short maintenance and duty free refueling stop on our way to Martinique. We got the boat nicely polished all around and in the cockpit. Then we hired a rigger to check the mast and all relevant parts of the rig. He was very satisfied with the condition of everything, and so were we. The Volvo dealer however had no time for the big engine maintenance. Most workshops are super busy because the yacht charter business moved South after the storm damages in the North. Upon leaving the country we bought 350 liters of duty free fuel at the attractive price of 0.77 Euro per liter.

So, now comes the really important part of this post. During the last weeks I read in the latest master piece of famous sailor Jimmy Cornell. The book carries the title ‘200’000 Miles’ which represents Jimmies vast high sea sailing knowledge, presented in an attractive autobiographical wrapper.

Reading the section about Southern Pacific infected me with the idea to continue our sail towards the Pacific rather then to sail back to Europe. In fact I never liked the idea to sail back into cold Northern European waters, with socks around the feet and gloves around the hands. So this new idea to sail into the Pacific triggered my blueprinting same as when I got infected with the idea of a sailing sabbatical.

By the way, Jimmies most infectious sentence was “We had no pressing reason to bring such a wonderful life to a premature end.” That sentence really made me thinking whether our own trip back to Europe would come to early? Why should we not sail the Pacific?

So we said: „Hey, we are just eight sailing days away from Panama. That means that we are almost at the doorstep to the Pacific, with our own yacht. That is a super huge chance, category ‚once-in-a-lifetime‘! So do something about it!“

We went through very intense weeks of ‚what-if-planning’. I studied the routing recommendations and the wind charts for the Pacific. We studied the administrative needs to cross the Panama channel as well as the selling chances for the boat on ‘the other side’ of the world. We contacted our municipality and school at home. It seemed that there were no killer criteria for an extended trip. There would have been ways to handle everything.

We would have left the Westindies during the first half of February. Our routing schedule was Martinique – Bonaire – Columbia – Panama (channel crossing) – Marquesas – Tahiti – Cook Islands – Fiji – Australia. We would have arrived in Sydney in late October 2018. The idea was to sell the boat there.

Our heads were deep in these questions since Grenada. Saint Lucia just became the place where we would take a decision. We did, and we decided to turn back to Europe as per the original schedule.

The most practical reason why not to go was that we couldn’t answer one key question: How to take responsibility for the family during the loooong leg from Panama to the Marquesas in case of an extended period of unfavorable weather, and one adult being down with a major thickness of injury? That leg is enormously 3’750 nautical miles long, almost 7’000 kilometers. Our standard traveling time would have been 27 days, easily 35 with low winds, perhaps again considerably more in a state of emergency.

That trip is absolutely doable and hundreds of private yachts are doing it every year, amongst them also friends of us from our Atlantic crossing. There were days where we were totally convinced that we should do it. On the next day our internal indicators pointed into the opposite direction. We gave ourselves the time to narrow down on this outstandingly great question. Towards the end we involved family and some friends. Finally we found a solid conclusion which is the right one for us. So, we intend to be back in Switzerland around July, 2018.

That is our season review about Saint Lucia. What about the island itself? We simply don’t know. There were other priorities which took most of our time.

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